A Year in TV Guide explores the 1964-1965 television season through the pages of TV Guide magazine. Each week, I’ll examine the issue of TV Guide published exactly 50 years earlier. The intent is not simply to examine what was on television each week but rather what was being written about television.
January 23rd, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 4, Issue #617
Western New England Edition
On the Cover: Chuck Conners (photograph by Del Hayden).
Despite appearing on the cover, there wasn’t an article about Chuck Connors in this issue. Instead, he received a glorified picture feature. More on that in a bit. Also, if you’ve been at the edge of your seat since last week wondering what was going to happen with Peyton Place you’ll have to wait a little longer because the second half of “The Battle of Peyton Place” was the fourth and final article in this issue and I’ll get to it shortly. The other three articles covered a variety of topics. “What Does Television Add Up To, Anyway? by Harold B. Clemenko is a two-page essay about the rising cost of television production. It also discusses other statistics relating to television.
For example, in 1953 the average TV set was turned on for four hours and 40 minutes each day. That number jumped to five hours and 25 minutes by the time this article was written. In 1950 there were 98 stations and four million sets. In 1964 there were 67.1 million sets in 53.1 million households served by 569 commercial TV stations and another 99 noncommercial stations.
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Most interesting is the following chart of productions costs, from Television magazine, for a dozen network TV shows:
Ben Casey … $135,000
Bewitched … $60,000
Candid Camera … $58,000
Dr. Kildare … $135,000
The Flintstones … $55,000
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. … $65,000
Hazel … $78,000
Hollywood Palace … $170,000
My Living Doll … $65,000
Perry Mason … $112,000
Peyton Place … $60,000
The Red Skelton Hour … $140,000
To Tell the Truth … $41,000
Wagon Train … $196,000
Wednesday Night Movies … $261,000
Elsewhere in the article, Clemenko reveals that The Jack Benny Program costs $80,500. Password, on the other hand, is a relative steal at just $35,000. He does point out that these are just the production costs and do not include network time charges. I have to wonder whether casual television viewers in 1964 cared about production costs or statistics about how many TV stations are affiliated with one of the big networks? It was 93%, as it turns out.
“The Fourth Act” is a two-page look at Kraft Suspense Theatre, the filmed NBC anthology series considered “the heir of the prestigious Kraft Television Theatre,” the earlier long-running NBC anthology series on the air from 1947 to 1958. It’s a complicated series to produce. In December 1964 four different productions were being filmed (“The Last Clear Chance,” “Isn’t Everyone of Us Beautiful?,” “The Silent Man,” and “Rapture at Two-Forty). It cost $200,000 a week to keep the show running and each installment took four months to finish. Says executive producer Frank P. Rosenberg, “We try to make a picture that people would walk up to the box office and pay $2 to see.” Although the article is very positive, Kraft Suspense Theatre was cancelled at the end of the 1964-1965 season.
“He’s the Robinson Crusoe of the Beatnik Set” is yet another TV Guide biography, this one about Bob Denver. It’s mostly a brief overview of his career — did you know he worked as a teacher and a postal worker at the same time? — but friction between the cast of Gilligan’s Island is discussed:
Denver will not say why he and the glamorous Tina [Louise] do not get along, nor will any of the castaways–they just ignore her, and she ignores them. Between scenes, while the other six principals chat and tell jokes together, she sits off by herself. And recently when Denver was asked to pose for pictures with her, he adamantly refused.
For some reason, I thought Denver was the only one who did get along with Louise. I guess I was wrong. The article ends on a hopeful note: “And there are reports that Tina Louise will be leaving Gilligan’s Island to go into another series.” She didn’t, of course.
Finally, there is the second part of “The Battle of Peyton Place” by Richard Warren Lewis. It’s even better than the first part. The battle eventually ended with ABC winning, for the most part, but not before two production shutdowns and executive producer Paul Monash threatening to quit. The first shutdown came after just two episodes had been completed (10 additional scripts were also done) while ABC and Monash fought over how to kick off the series.
Monash argued against ABC’s proposal to have Betty Anderson lose her child in an automobile accident and then quickly become pregnant again:
Dramatic fireworks without a solid platform of reality would be melodramatic pap, no matter how well it is written and acted. If the audience does not feel for the people in this series, if it does not have a genuine love toward some of them, if they do not believe in the reality of our people, then the Peyton Place series,no matter what its initial rating, will go right down the drain.
The second shutdown came in late November 1964 after 42 episodes had been filmed. ABC wanted murder and Monash, after initially opposing their plan and threatening to quit, eventually gave in:
The hell with it. If this is what they want, and the studio orders me to do it, I’m not going to breach my contact. In this screwy business you eventually end up as a prostitute anyhow. I suppose you could say I now have the most curious success in television. It’s unfortunate that instead of basking in the success, people are grabbing for the spoils. The show is no longer a reflection of what I wanted to do. I feel like a salmon swimming upstream to die.
Bizarrely, after winning the battle, ABC abruptly decided to tone down the very violence it had been asking for.
The “As We See It” editorial this week responds to CBS adding its own movie night in the upcoming 1965-1966 season, finally joining ABC and NBC. TV Guide worried that increasing the number of movie nights would mean lost jobs due to the two to four TV shows no longer needed by CBS and suggested perhaps TV studios start pumping out movies they can later sell to the networks. Also, current movies may not be appropriate fare for television but viewers may be “so brainwashed” by then that they’ll accept anything on their TV screens. To be honest it’s not a great editorial and I’m not actually sure whether it is opposing movie nights or not. It’s hard to tell.
Cleveland Amory reviewed ABC Scope this week and praised ABC News for producing a half-hour documentary series that “is not only well worth your attention but is also one about which the network is legitimately entitled to congratulate itself.” He then proceeded to run through four different episodes covering topics ranging from a man who loves being Santa Claus every year to an appreciation of Winston Churchill by Richard Burton. Amory was pleased with the fact that ABC Scope didn’t tie itself to topical news but covered anything and everything deemed interesting.
News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:
- NBC has a number of specials set for the spring: “The Science of Spying” (May 4), “Our Man in Washington” with David Brinkley (April 20th), and a tour of the Grand Canyon with Joseph Wood Krutch (June 1st).
- In April, Melina Mercouri will lead a tour through Greece for ABC.
- Producer Sy Weintraub has scriptwriter Clair Huffaker working a pilot script for “Tarzan on Venus.”
- Kathie Browne has been signed to co-star with George Gobel in his proposed series The Willies. [A pilot was filmed but was not picked up.]
- Wagon Train may be getting a spin-off called Bend in the River, starring Rory Calhoun. An episode called “Thirty Pieces of Silver” will serve as a pilot for the proposed spin-off. [Calhoun appeared in the final episode of Wagon Train, titled “The Jarbo Pierce Story.” It aired in May 1965 and did not lead to a spin-off.]
- The Virginian is the highested-rated show on England’s BBC-2.
- Mike Blodgett has been signed to a role in ABC’s “Meet Me in St. Loius” pilot.
There are two very elaborate picture features in this issue. The first is really an article about NBC’s new half-hour Western Branded, starring Chuck Conners, that also happens to include 10 images from the opening credits. The other is also heavy on text and examines the upcoming CBS color presentation of Cinderella starring Lesley Ann Warren, to premiere on February 22nd. There is also the regular TV crossword puzzle.
There were two news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:
- As if there hasn’t been enough drama behind the scenes of Peyton Place, a spin-off is in the works called The Girl from Peyton Place, starring Barbara Parkins as Betty Anderson. It will likely start in the summer as a once a week series but may go twice a week in the fall. 20th Century-Fox’s William Self told TV Guide the spin-of “is still conversation” and that Irna Phillips is developing the concept but nothing is on paper yet. Paul Monash, executive producer of Peyhton Place, said he had only just found out about the proposed spin-of and insisted he will have to be involved regardless of how much ABC liks Phillips.
- Raymond Burr and Jack Paar have both announced they will not be returning to their respective series (Perry Mason on CBS and The Jack Paar Program on NBC) for the 1964-1965. CBS is confident Burr will come around, suggesting he is “playing psychological games.” NBC, on the other hand, thought Paar was serious. [Paar did end his show at the end of the 1964-1965 season while Burr would return to Perry Mason for a final season.]
The letters page featured just six letters this week responding to four topics, many of them relatively long. Two readers wrote in to complain about the network’s scheduling shows against one another: Slattery’s People opposite 12 O’clock High (“There are so many hours of tasteless, insipid shows, why must the few really fine programs be scheduled back to back?”) and World War I opposite Profiles in Courage (“two top-quality shows must kill each other off fighting for the same slim audience”).
A reader from Montreal wrote in to asked what critics thought of Profiles in Courage, supposedly the most critically acclaimed new show of the year in Canada. An editorial note indicated critics in the U.S. “liked it fine.” There were two additional letters responding to the January 2nd article about TV critics:
If your respondents among the critics had any grain of honesty, they would not have insulted your intelligence with those sob stories of “12-to-16-hour days” [“A Close Look at the Critics, Jan. 2]. Just once, follow one of these mighty intellects around on a typical day! You’ll find that he is continually courted, flattered,pampered, wined, dined and entertained by networks and stations anxious to obtain a favorable review for their programming.
Harold H. Plaut
Every man has to be his own TV critic! The morning-after reviews of the newspaper critics are chronicles of yesterday’s programs; they are less useful in shaping judgement for today’s and tomorrow’s programs. In an image-saturated culture, the schools have the responsibility for training taste in the new media. Let us put a tiger in your armchair!
Rev. John M. Culkin, S.J.
New York, N.Y.
The final letter was from a reader pointing out that the January 2nd article about Yvonne DeCarlo stated her character on The Munsters, Lily, was 156 years old while Lily herself said during the December 31st episode that she was 137. An editorial note acknowledged that Lily likely lied about her age, much like typical American housewives.
The TV Listings
There were two new network shows debuting this week: The King Family on ABC and Branded on NBC. The King Family premiered Saturday, January 23rd at 7:30PM as a replacement for The Outer Limits. The hour-long variety show starred 37 members of the talented King family. The first episode featured songs like “Saturday Night,” “When Are You Going to Learn?” and “Dear Heart.” It led into the 500th episode of The Lawrence Welk Show at 8:30PM. Here’s a quarter-page advertisement for the show:
Advertisement for The King Family on ABC – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
The King Family would run for two seasons and 39 episodes, ending in January 1966.
Chuck Conners starred in Branded, a half-hour Western that premiered on Sunday, January 24th at 8:30PM as a replacement for The Bill Dana Show. It performed well, ranking 14th for the 1964-1965 season, and was renewed. It fell out of the Top 30 for the 1965-1966 season and was cancelled after 48 episodes. Here’s a quarter-page advertisement for the show:
Advertisement for Branded on NBC – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
There were no bowl games this week or any football games, for that matter. The big sports event on television was The 24th Annual Bing Crosby Golf Tournament. NBC aired live coverage from 5-6PM on Saturday and 90 minutes of live coverage from 4:30-6PM on Sunday. Pros playing included Tony Lema, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Julius Boros. Celebrities playing included Danny Thomas, Vince Lombardi, Andy Williams, Fred MacMurray, and James Garner.
CBS aired an hour-long opera called “Martin’s Lie” on Sunday from 9-10PM. Kirk Browning directed the Gian-Carlo Menotti opera in its American premiere. NBC broadcast an hour-long color special “Ghosts of England” from 10-10PM on Monday, January 25th. Margaret Rutherford hosted the special, which looked at three spooky mansions in England. Another special, “French Revolution,” aired from 10-11PM on Tuesday, January 26th. Michael Redgrave narrated the George A. Vicas production, which also featured NBC’s Paris Bureau chief Bernard Frizell.
On Thursday, January 28th CBS aired another “Young People’s Concert” from 8-9PM. This one featured 15-year-old pianist Patricia Michaelian and 17-year-old violinist James Oliver Buswell IV. It was the sixth such concert, all of which were hosted and conducted by Leonard Bernstein. That same day from 9:30-11PM, Hallmark Hall of Fame on NBC broadcast “The Magnificent Yankee” in color. Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne starred in the adaptation of Emmet Lavery’s play of the same name.
Here are the TV Guide close-ups for the week:
- Saturday Night at the Movies – The Rainmaker (NBC, Saturday at 8:30PM)
- CBS Sports Spectacular (CBS, Sunday at 2:30PM)
- Bing Crosby Golf (NBC, Sunday at 4:30PM)
- The Twentieth Century: “Rudolph Hess” (CBS, Sunday at 6PM)
- Special: Ghosts of England (NBC, Monday at 10PM)
- Special: French Revolution (NBC, Tuesday at 10PM)
- Special: Young People’s Concert (CBS, Thursday at 8PM)
- Hallmark Hall of Fame: “The Magnificent Yankee” (NBC, Thursday at 9:30PM)
Here are some of the programs available for purchase by subscribers to Zenith Radio Company’s Phonevision pay television experiment on Connecticut’s WHCT-TV (Channel 18):
- Movie: Voyage to the End of the Universe (Saturday at 1PM, $0.50)
- Pro Hockey: Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins (Live, Sunday at 7:30PM, $1.25)
- Movie: Youngblood Hawke (Monday at 8:30PM, $1.25)
- Movie: Murder Ahoy (Tuesday at 7PM, $1.25)
- Movie: The Outrage (Wednesday at 9PM, $1.25)
- Movie: The Condemned of Altona (Thursday at 9PM, $1.00)
- Movie: Invitation to a Gunfighter (Friday at 8PM, $1.25)
It was a busy weekend locally. On Saturday, January 23rd WNHC-TV (Channel 8) aired highlights of a high school basketball game (Hillhouse vs. Wilbur Cross) from 9-10AM, with Carl Grande reporting. Later, from 12-1PM the same station aired an hour-long “New Haven Symphony” special. WHDH-TV (Channel 5) aired “The Big Little Show” from 6:30-7PM. By my count, this was the eighth time the half-hour syndicated special raising money for the March of Dimes had aired in Western New England. WHNB-TV (Channel 30) aired another installment of “Starring the Editors” from 7-8PM.
WTIC-TV (Channel 3) aired another episode of From the College Campus from 11:30AM-12PM on Sunday, January 24th. Wesleyan University was featured. WHDH-TV aired a public affairs report on the topic of Public Schools in Massachusetts, with Senator Kevin B. Harrington, Dr. Franklin K. Patterson, Dr. Owen Kiernan, and Dr. Harry Y. Hilliard.
The rest of the week was relatively quiet. WNHC-TV pre-empted Burke’s Law from 9:30-10:30PM on Wednesday, January 27th to air an hour-long documentary on the Nuremberg Trials, produced by David L. Wolper and narrated by Richard Basehart.
Here are the episode descriptions for Dateline Boston, a local series broadcast live and in color Monday through Friday from 6-6:25PM on WHDH-TV (Channel 5):
Monday, January 25th, 1965
Captain Bob illustrates dimension and perspective in still life sketches.
Tuesday, January 26th, 1965
The latest developments in the publishing field are examined.
Wednesday, January 27th, 1965
Host John explores the world of science.
Thursday, January 28th, 1965
“Why Adults Are Necessary in Scouting?” A Boston scout unit, with its adult leaders, is shown working on a scouting project.
Friday, January 29th, 1965
Members of the Boston Opera Group are interviewed.
That’s it for this week. Hit the comments with your thoughts.